‘Damn Milton, and his father before him.’
‘What did his father do?’
‘Most of the damage, probably. Gave him a classical education and brought him up respectable. God, to think what he might have produced if he’d knocked around like Shakespeare did, instead of sitting indoors ruining his eyesight and thinking up filthy words like connubial and affable and congratulant. I suppose when they were fresh, all the writers in the country must have gulped them down like unspoiled savages getting their first taste of gin. Now we’re sodden with ’em, and all the rest of his fancy diseases. He can afford them; he’s never less than archangel ruined, blast him. But he’s left the English tongue like Satan left Adam and Eve – fig-leaved and self-conscious. If I ever get to heaven I’ll tell him what I think of him.’
Renault, Mary. The Friendly Young Ladies. London: Virago Press, 2005. 1-84408-136-2. (First published 1944).